WHILE I was sorry to learn that Valvona & Crolla was closing its Vincaffè in Multrees Walk, I wasn’t entirely surprised. I always thought that V&C was too genuine, too good, for this soulless corporate windsock of a thoroughfare conceived of by second-rate planners and gullible councillors as Edinburgh’s millionaires’ alley. You can rely on Edinburgh Council to make catastrophic planning decisions. It toadies up to developers, woos chains it misguidedly deems to be aspirational, imposes disruptive projects on the city that stifle the business of indigenous independents. What a crew!

Consequently, in a way I’m quite chuffed to see Valvona & Crolla – a venerable star in the capital’s authentic food heritage – retrench to the nurturing mother ship premises it has occupied since 1934 on Elm Row. This lively terrace is set back from Leith Walk, an artery that happily remains stubbornly indifferent to municipal gentrification.

The Caffè Bar at V&C, Elm Row, has always been an atmospheric spot that oozes Italian-Scottish history. The kitchen’s emphasis has always been on "cooks" rather than "chefs". Previously it was daytime only but post the demise of Vincaffè, it’s now open certain evenings too, renewing its old, welcome focus on home, as opposed to restaurant cooking. What do I mean? Well, my ham and white bean soup warms the cockles of the heart. There’s the odd strand of unsmoked ham, shredded off hock or rib, but this thick potage clearly owes its homely, rounded flavour to its base, a classic "soffrito", where onions, carrots and celery have been patiently sweated to enhance their flavours and create a deep, savoury base. The consistency of the beans suggests that someone took the time to soak them. Some have been left whole, others mashed or liquidised to thicken the soup. Welcome greenness is provided by finely cut cavalo nero. Our other starter is that Roman speciality, puntarelle – a sprouting chicory that’s only mildly bitter and extremely juicy. Here it’s served in the typical Roman way, chopped raw, in an anchovy, vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil dressing. It exemplifies how Italians have the confidence keep things simple. No random additions to embellish (clutter up) the plate. My only mild gripe is that I could do with more of that divine dressing and less of the water the puntarelle was soaked in to curl it up.

I should say that portions here constitute two good servings in my book but after a few mouthfuls I’m well up for the mountain of coarsely ground, golden, grilled polenta and the grilled vegetables that crown it. Here’s the reason: Valvona & Crolla import Italian vegetables from the Milan market, and Italy is veg central on any horticulture map of Europe. So the peppers aren’t water bombs, but sweet and melting, the aubergines are velvety and soft, the courgettes are small and firm, not bloated, the pink onions are toothsome, and last, but not least, there’s an abundance of tapering Treviso chicory (Rossa di Treviso), an elegant, succulent relative of radicchio. Made with standard polenta and the usual hybrid, long-life "Mediterranean" veg we have on our shelves, this dish would be a recipe for disaster. This, on the other hand, is a triumph. Miraculously, we manage to find room for the porky, gelatinous cotechino sausage, which is flanked not only by the customary lentils and mostarda di Cremona (a candied fruit confection from the eponymous city) but also by homespun potato mash. It’s all too good to leave a drop.

Dessert is a fat wedge of sticky orange polenta cake that’s impregnated with punchy orange zest and liqueur notes. An insanely generous slice of luscious Gorgonzola Dolce – around 150g in weight, I’d estimate – comes with a stack of thin, brittle but nevertheless functional homemade oatcakes, half an immaculately ripe pear, and a ramekin of fragrant Italian honey. Our bill is surprisingly low, and the crowning act of generosity is that you’ll only pay £4 corkage on the retail price of Valvona & Crolla’s lovely Italian wine selection.

Stuff Multrees Walk. Give me Elm Row any day.